3D Sculpture Tutorial by Jessica Fortner

Posted at 9 am on January 19, 2011 by

Posted in: 3D Illustration, Character Illustration, Hand Craft, Photoshop, Tutorials

Jessica Fortner creates her humorous character illustrations by lovingly sculpting every detail by hand. Her work also uses craft and textiles, photography, and digital imagery to construct the final pieces. The main figures are built upon a skeleton of aluminium armature wire, covered in sculpting clay that is then baked, dressed in hand-stitched clothes, and placed in sets made out of various materials and found objects.

On top of her sculptural illustrations, Jessica also enjoys creating stereoscopic, aka 3D, images. She was kind enough to take the time to tell us more about this process and provide a few steps to get you started.

Can you tell us a little more about stereoscopic images?

Stereoscopic images are made by combining two pictures taken at two different angles that, when viewed simultaneously, create the illusion of depth and 3D space. Because we have binocular vision (two eyes used together), our brains are accustomed to combining images this way. A stereoscopic image is a single image in which two different angle views have been combined into one. 3D pictures which require red/blue glasses make use of the color filtering properties of the the glasses to separate these two views, so that each eye sees a different view.

What will you be showing us in this tutorial?


This tutorial will show you how to create a 3D scene, then photograph it from 2 angles, and finally combine the 2 pictures in Photoshop to create a stereoscopic (3D) image that can be viewed with blue/red glasses.


For this tutorial I created an illustration of Jane Goodall playing chess with an ape.


Step 1:


Start by sketching out an idea/composition.


Step 2:


Sculpt all characters props and background.

Step 3:


Paint and add clothing and other details.


Note: Keep in mind that all details will be enhanced when viewing your image in 3D, so make sure that stitching, paint, and textures are all to your liking.


Step 4:


Set up your characters in a scene. Remember to refer back to your sketch, where you have already planned the composition.

Step 5:


On a sheet of paper laid flat in front of your scene, draw two marks. The distance between the marks should be the same as the distance between your main character’s eyes. The distance will depend on the size of your sculpted character. I used 1cm (0.5in).


Note: Because I’m working with miniature environments and characters to create a 3D effect, the distance between the two camera positions must match the scale. So I always use the distance between the characters eyes as a guide. If you are making 3D images of the ‘real world’ you will want to use the average distance between a person’s eyes (roughly 2.5in).


Step 6:


Take two pictures one beside the other. Line your camera up with the first mark (right) and take your first photograph. Then slide the camera over to your second mark (left) and take your second photograph.


Step 7:


Import your two photographs into your computer and open an editing software. I use Photoshop.

Step 8:


In Photoshop:


First open your ‘right’ image. Then open your ‘left’ image and drop that on top of your ‘right’ image. You will now have two layers in your photoshop file.


Click your left picture layer and go to LAYER STYLE (by double-clicking in the layer) and un-check the red channel.



Step 9:


Align the left layer so that the focus point in your illustration matches perfectly with the right layer.



Step 10:


Crop the edges of the image and you now have a 3D/stereoscopic illustration. Experiment and play around with the technique on all sorts of images.


A great technique for us to try! Thanks, Jessica!

© Jessica Fortner, 2011.